Policy and Operational Framework for Integrated Management of Estuarine, Coastal and Marine Environments in Canada

Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction

Canada’s Oceans

“From sea to sea to sea" – Canada has long defined itself by its three oceans. In the 21st century, the waters of Canada’s oceans, coasts and estuaries remain not only a major source of economic activity, but also an integral part of its culture and identity. The coastline is the longest of any country in the world, and the seabed over which Canada has control represents two-thirds of its landmass.

All Canadians are connected to the oceans. Oceans support commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries, oil and gas exploration and development, marine recreation and tourism, aquaculture, shipping and transportation, and a variety of other economic uses that directly contribute over $20 billion a year to Canada’s economy. Oceans also support a wide variety of other uses and activities such as high technology and pharmaceutical industries, potential mining opportunities, and scientific and technical research.

Conservation, based on an ecosystem approach, is of fundamental importance to maintaining biological diversity and productivity in our marine environment. Canada’s marine ecosystems have a remarkable diversity of species, including commercial and non-commercial fish, marine mammals, invertebrates and plants. For all Canadians and for the welfare of the planet, there must be long-term measures to protect the integrity and biodiversity of the marine environment. As stewards of marine waters, Canada must strive to protect the ocean environment from growing pressures on ecosystems that come from both marine and land-based activities.

Integrated Management

The Oceans Act calls on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to lead and facilitate the development of a national oceans strategy to guide the management of Canada’s estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems. The response is Canada’s Oceans Strategy, a discussion paper designed to provide the overall strategic framework for Canada’s oceans-related programs and policies. It is based on the principles of sustainable development, Integrated Management and the precautionary approach. The central governance mechanism of the Strategy is applying these principles through the development and implementation of Integrated Management plans.

The purpose of this paper, Policy and Operational Framework for Integrated Management of Estuarine, Coastal and Marine Environments in Canada, is to explain how Fisheries and Oceans Canada is addressing its responsibilities for Integrated Management under the Oceans Act and Canada’s Oceans Strategy. It is intended to foster discussion with other federal, provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal authorities and the general public. This paper also reflects the lessons learned by the federal and provincial, Aboriginal and regional authorities who have been involved in Integrated Management. It outlines a domestic policy framework and operational guidelines so that governments, community groups and others can be guided in their efforts to work together to better advance both sustainable development and the conservation and protection of oceans.

The overarching goal for Integrated Management is the sustainable development of oceans and their resources. To meet this goal, a management approach must be adopted that maintains the integrity or health of marine ecosystems, addresses user conflicts and addresses the cumulative impact of many kinds of activities within a given ocean space. This Policy and Operational Framework for Integrated Management of Estuarine, Coastal and Marine Environments in Canada provides a unifying theme, linking plans for all of Canada’s ocean waters. It is designed to be sufficiently flexible to permit the tailoring of plans to fit specific regional settings.

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